Team Writing Utensil: IMMERSE

We immersed ourselves in the problem places by doing individual online research for specific user groups and issues that may cause hand disabilities and writing difficulties. We decided that instead of focusing on specific hand disability user group to focus on the effect and how we can assist people with hand disabilities to write quicker and easier. We also got the opportunity to talk to a community partner Dr. Lee who is excited to work with us and offer us what resources he can. He has a very good engineering prospective to contribute to the solution of our problem. We are also looking forward to the opportunity to talk to specific users in our user group to scope our problem space even more and learn more about how our device can help them.


Losing the ability to write is a major loss of autonomy. It often also takes extensive practice and therapy to recover / re-learn the ability to write.


We broke our user groups into broad groups since people with hand disabilities have a variety of experiences and ways that they work with their disability. All of these different hand disabilities have similar effects and probably would have a similar solution.

Broad forms of disability — loss of fine motor control / strength (arthritis, CP), loss of limbs / body parts (amputees, casts, congenital)

We should focus on shared symptoms rather than causes.

Key Insights:

  • Dictation tools aren’t very useful
  • Existing solutions primarily for people with loss of fine motor control and strength, and still require fingers
  • Uses laptop / tablet 95% of the time; but doesn’t truly replace physical writing device
  • Wrist dexterity important in absence of fingers
    • What’s the next point of rotation?
  • Push pens
    • Caps difficult to remove
  • Must be comfortable and durable
    • Hours of practice / therapy daily → learned to be ambidextrous

User Persona:

This user Alice has lost the use of her fingers and lacks autonomy, being unable to sign documents for herself. This is increasingly frustrating for her in educational and professional settings where she is unable to write or take notes with a pen or pencil in a timely manner, as simple tasks take much longer for her to perform. Simple pleasures like drawing and painting have become increasingly difficult or impossible, and she is forced to give up some passions.

Next Steps:

We are really hoping to get to talk to an Occupational Therapist, who can speak to challenges people with hand disabilities face. Speaking with nurses, physicians and people with hand disabilities will help us to get a better idea of the problem.

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